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Last updated: 19 November, 2022
Expert travel writer: Rob Goss

Friendly and family-run, this Japanese inn in the retro Yanaka district offers a budget-friendly version of the traditional ryokan experience.

While high-end ryokan are all about luxury, what you get here is a simple tatami-mat guestroom, with futon beds put out at night, plus access to a pair of modest hot-spring baths.

Because the Sawanoya doesn’t come with the non-negotiable multi-course kaiseki-ryori dinner served in plusher inns, you also get an inn that’s great for a multi-night stay – ideal if you want to immerse yourself in Yanaka and other parts of Tokyo’s older, down-to-earth northeast.

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Key facilities

Airport transfers: Not available
Beach: None
Fitness centre
Fitness classes
Golf course
Hot tub
Parking: Not available
Pool (adults only)
Pool (indoor)
Pool (outdoor)
Pool (kids)
Tennis courts
WiFi: Free

Food & drink

All inclusive
Kids menu
Restaurant on-site
Self catering
Additional charge

Room types


Room facilities

Air conditioning
Flat screen TV
Jacuzzi (private)
Pool (private)
Tea & coffee making facilities

Bedding options

2+ bedrooms
3+ beds
Connecting rooms
Rollaway/sofa bed

Bucket list experiences our writer says you must do in this destination, closest first

Museums of Ueno Park

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan[0.9 miles]

A collection of six excellent in one park, including the Tokyo National Museum. Also one of the city’s most popular sites for hanami in Cherry Blosssom season.

Best for ages: 6+ | Varies | 2-3 hours

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Overview >

Tokyo National Museum

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan[1.1 miles]

Japan’s oldest and largest art and cultural museum, is a must-see for anyone interested in Japan’s fascinating history. Collections include samurai armour and swords, ancient Buddhist sculptures even tea ceremony utensils.

Best for ages: 8+ | £6 | 2-3 hours

Sensoji Temple

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan[3 miles]

With towering gateways and a five-storied pagoda, this busy temple in Asakusa is a standout. If you have time for just one temple in Tokyo – make it this one.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | 2-3 hours

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Overview >

Sumo wrestling

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan[3.7 miles]

Drama and tradition combine in this 1,000-year-old sport. It’s a mesmerising and atmospheric spectacle – and Tokyo’s Ryogoku neighbourhood is the centre of it all.

Best for ages: 8+ | £15 | 2-3 hours

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Overview >

Other worthwhile experiences in this destination if you have the time or the interest, closest first

Nezu Shrine

Nezu Shrine

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan[0.4 miles]

A gorgeous Shinto shrine, dating back to 1705, of elegant, colourful structures, tunnels af shrine arches, forested pathways, and ponds of koi carp. Every April, this shrine holds a month-long festival to celebrate the blooming of thousands of azaleas.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | 2-3 hours

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Overview >

Old Tokyo at Yanaka

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan[0.4 miles]

Having avoided damage from the great quake of 1923, the bombs of World War Two and the attention of developers, this mellow, retro and rickety neighbourhood is reminiscent of ‘old Tokyo’.

Best for ages: 13+ | Free | 2-3 hours

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Overview >
Exterior of the Japanese Sword Museum in Ryogoku

Japanese Sword Museum

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan[3.6 miles]

This museum in Ryogoku exhibits a collection of around 190 supremely crafted historic katana (samurai swords) – some designated national treasures – and documents how they are made.

Best for ages: 8+ | £7 | 2-3 hours

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Overview >
Imperial Palace & Gardens

Imperial Palace & Gardens

Tokyo, Kanto, Japan[4.1 miles]

The Imperial family’s current home is off-limits to visitors, but you can steal photogenic glimpses and stroll the pretty East Gardens.

Best for ages: 18+ | Free | 2-3 hours

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Overview >

Destination guides including or relevant to this place to stay


Kanto, Japan

A dizzying mixture of old ways and modern style, crowds and calm, and arguably the best food scene on the planet.

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Overview >